BBC Dragon’s Den

~ The Story ~

2018 was a landmark year for Drone Safe Register.

In February, we were focused on submitting our application to the flagship BBC business programme Dragon’s Den. It was too good an opportunity to miss to not put our fledgling business in front of some of the UK’s best business minds, although we knew there was only a slim chance that we would be walking into the Den with so many competing applications.

So we were thrilled when we found out that we had been selected to present our pitch in the Den and the work began in earnest to make sure we nailed our facts and figures ready for the Dragons’ grilling – and we also planned to make an impression from the outset by quite literally flying into the Den.

BBC Dragon's Den

There’s such a range of success stories that have come from the Dragon’s Den Warehouse. Who can forget the musical Levi Roots? With the help of Peter Jones, his fiery sauce sold more in its opening weekend than it was forecast to move in one year!

If you’re partial to the occasional takeaway, then you’ve probably heard of Hungry House. Another hugely successful contender and they didn’t even work with the Dragons in order to achieve their household name status.

9th September 2018 – The Show Airs on BBC2 at 9pm

So, we were so excited to be standing not only in front of this illustrious panel of business entrepreneurs but also bringing Drone Safe Register to the forefront of the UK’s minds – the programme has 4 million viewers on the night with another 2 million who will watch it on Catch Up services and so it was an amazing opportunity to reach out and let the UK know what drones can do for them.  

We knew that the programme had the desired effect as there was so much demand on our website that it failed under the strain of so many people taking a look at us and finding out more about our pilot members.  In fact, there was a knock-on effect across the whole drone industry were many drone operators including our competitor directories, all had huge surges in interest. Luckily one of our first projects with the Peter Jones Team was to redevelop it so it’s fit to stand as much traffic as possible now.

The Dragons

Walking into that recognisable warehouse, we were facing quite a fearsome and impressive panel.

Deborah Meaden – a full time investor with a wide-ranging business portfolio and a huge amount of experience in so many industry sectors.

Peter Jones – A Dragon from Series 1 who started to build his own business empire straight from school and who has helped many other businesses with his investment and mentorship.

Jenny Campbell – A newer Dragon with a huge amount of experience in the banking and finance sectors.

Tej Lalvani – a CEO who took Vitalise from its humble beginnings to be the largest vitamin company in the UK with many recognisable health brands.

Touker Suleyman – a retail expert owning both Ghost and Hawes & Curtis and who is described also as a ‘serial entrepreneur’ with a keen interest in supporting UK start ups.

The Dragons’ Verdict

So when the pitch was over and it was time for the Dragons to declare their hands, we were so excited to reveal that we actually had not one, but three Dragons vying for the chance to make their investment. While we are sure that any one of them would have added incredible value to our business, our decision was to go with Peter Jones and accepted his £60k investment for 40% of the business. We wanted him to have a large stake clearly, so that he would have the commitment we needed to move DSR forward.

The tech tycoon is a household name having been one of the original Dragons and he’s an incredibly well respected and connected entrepreneur who has helped to shepherd many business to successes beyond their wildest dreams. Couple this with his vast experience in the world of technology and the fact that he actually retails drones himself through his business, Jessops, we really couldn’t imagine a more perfect investor to help us to take DSR to the next level.

Mark’s Experience in the Den

Mark Boyt, the founder and CEO of Drone Safe Register, made a solo pitch to the Dragons.  Even though you only see a few minutes excerpt on the programme itself, it’s actually a few hours of interview time.   Here’s a little bit about that experience in his own words…

” My visit to the Den was certainly one of the more nerve wracking experiences in my life. Firstly I was obviously extremely focused on my pitch.

However, before I could even get to that part, I had to deal with the pressure of flying a drone out of a lift in a ‘one take’ scenario in front of the UK’s most famous business panel. Actually after that, the pitch part seemed relatively simple! The night before I hadn’t sleep at all after learning of the sudden and tragic bereavement of a very close family friend. It took everything I had to stay focused and on point.

I wanted to become a part of Dragons’ Den (one of the BBC’s flagship shows entering its 16th series) as it seemed an ideal platform not only to potentially gain interest and investment from one of its eminently qualified Dragons but also to raise awareness of the type of work drones can do, of the benefits that DSR brings in providing safe, qualified and legal operators and generally cast a positive light on an industry that is too often demonised in the media.

Months of work had gone into getting ready for the big event. Obviously I’d rehearsed ‘the pitch’ time and time again, trying to predict the questions I’d be asked so I could get the answers ready. However, I’d be lying if I said that the trademark Dragon grilling wasn’t a little bit gruelling! I was focusing so hard on getting all the relevant info across that I didn’t even have time to think what the outcome of it all might be.

So I was genuinely gobsmacked when three Dragons threw their hats into the ring. Each of them would, I have no doubt, have brought the most incredible amount of value to my company. Still if you’d asked me before I went in what the perfect outcome would be, I’d have said ‘to get Peter Jones on board’ and so it really was too good an opportunity to miss when that became a possibility “

Things got a little heated when the Dragons were all vying to be our investors as you can see…

View the Pitch in the Dragon’s Den

Peter Jones CBE

When DSR flew into the Dragons’ Den, we knew that our ideal investor would be Peter Jones. Berkshire born Peter had known from his childhood years that he wanted to be a big deal in the business world.  His first solo venture was a tennis coaching school – coming his love of tennis and his head for figures in perfect harmony.

His 20s saw him heading up a thriving computer business and enjoying the benefits. Although that business eventually failed,, he learned form his experiences and soon put himself back on top – running a company he had joined as an employee just one short year earlier.

He then rode the mobile phone wave, founding the Phones International Group providing cellular solutions to a range of clients. That business is still at the heart of the Jones Empire, trading now as Data Select, alongside a host of other mobile technology businesses.

Now, Peter has an investment in more than forty businesses in a wide range of fields, including of course, our very own Drone Safe Register and Jessops (who we have a very strong working relationship with). As well as this, Peter established his Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in 2009 with the aim of offering business courses to students aged 16 to 19.  This passion for education is also reflected in the Peter Jones Foundation which offers support to children through innovative education activities.

Now, Peter has an investment in more than forty businesses in a wide range of fields, including of course, our very own Drone Safe Register and Jessops (who we have a very strong working relationship with).

As well as this, Peter established his Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in 2009 with the aim of offering business courses to students aged 16 to 19.  This passion for education is also reflected in the Peter Jones Foundation which offers support to children through innovative education activities.

Peter Jones Business Portfolio

Peter Jones and Drone Safe Register

So Peter Jones shares our love of technology and also our enthusiasm for bringing exciting new study programmes into the school environment (you can find out more about our groundbreaking Drones for Schools Programme here).  There was no doubt in our minds that we would be the perfect investor to help us to take Drone Safe Register to the next level.

However, we had no idea of the level of personal involvement that Peter would have in our business once the filming had stopped and the contracts were signed.  It has exceeded all of our expectations to find Peter taking a great deal of interest in what we are trying achieve in the UK drone industry.

“I’m absolutely delighted with my investment into the UK drone hire industry. It is not always the case that you get the chance to invest in a business that not only you are personally passionate about but also offers the chance to enhance the lives of so many people.

I already live within the world of drone technology as I own the biggest supplier of drones in Europe. In fact, I’ve probably had a hand in supplying drones to most of the DSR members!

I see unlimited potential for the Drone Safe Register as a UK wide network of drone pilots who are guaranteed to be qualified, insured and operate legally. As I said on the show, I believe that there is truly no ceiling to what we can achieve together.”

~ Peter Jones CBE

Life Immediately After the Den

The weeks following our television appearance were a whirlwind of phone calls and interviews as so much media attention was directed at our organisation and drone pilots.

However, we knew straight away that one of the areas that we wanted to use the ‘Team Jones’ experience to improve was the website.  The plan was to create a faster, more robust platform that would allow the UK public to search for and find their local drone pilot quickly and simply.  We also wanted to create a one stop shop style website combining our pilot search facility with our drone stock footage area.

Also, on the wish list was the ability to offer extra member benefits with a dedicated forum, resource area and improved member dashboard so our pilots could better showcase the services that they provide.

At the heart of it all, Drone Safe Register remained committed to some basic principles:-

  • To educate the general public about the safe use of drones, the importance of using legal and approved CAA pilots and communicate the opportunities that drone photography, videography and thermal imaging can provide, both in the business and personal worlds.
  • To provide resources and support for drone hobbyists to enable them to safely, legally and responsibly enjoy the incredibly creative and rewarding hobby of flying UAVs.
  • To provide UK wide access to a network of qualified, approved, safe and legal drone operators that the client can rely upon to give a top level of service.
  • To maximise opportunities for DSR members to network, gain clients, ‘white label’ and access all the quality resources that we provide to drive their business from strength to strength.

Our new website was launched in November 2018 with the help of our new team and we’ve been working together ever since to offer increasing amount of benefits and features to both our member pilots and the drone hiring UK and Irish public.

We will continue to develop our website to bring new functionality to both the visiting public and our professional and amateur flyer members. Since it’s launch we have introduced our ‘Marketplace’ we you can buy and sell second-hand equipment, ‘Kit Hire’ services where members can rent equipment to other members and or course our new Drones for Schools educational programme.

Membership Options

Peter Jones
A Long Term Partnership

Once the initial media interest died down, the work didn’t stop for us.  We’ve been hard at it behind the scenes to grow our member numbers, expand the range of benefits that we have to offer our drone pilot network and also partnering with Jessops (also part of the Peter Jones Empire).

We’ve also launched our ground-breaking free Drones for Schools education programme which brings the drone industry into the classrooms of tomorrow’s pilots and satisfies the national curriculum for Design and Technology Key Stage 2 – 7-11-year olds. You can find out more about Drones for Schools here.

We have also developed and launched a Major Account portal to address the needs of corporate and government organisations looking for account management on a national level for large scale projects.

As our result of our investment into the future of the drone industry as a whole, we were invited to work directly with the CAA as a third-party stakeholder as they develop their airspace and drone policy regulation.

So, it’s been a busy time and we’re not stopping any time soon as we are on the brink of launching a whole new raft of features and member benefits for the professional and amateur flyer communities.

We’re very proud of Drone Safe Register and what it achieved in getting into the Dragons’ Den and working to promote the fantastic benefits that drones can offer to the UK both in terms of domestic and commercial uses.  Working alongside Peter Jones has meant that we can go further and offer more than we ever dreamed possible – so the sky is both literally and figuratively the limit where drones are concerned.